Free Software

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Today in the computer world much of the software industry is controlled by large businesses like Adobe Systems and Microsoft, that hold virtual monopolies over their products. This allows them to charge ludicrous prices for their products. For example: current version copies of Adobe Photoshop costs around $650 and the Home & Student version of Microsoft Office starts at $149.95 (the Professional version costs $500!). These prices make it so regular people have to pay through the nose just to buy basic software.

Fortunately there exists a lot of open source software that you can get for free and is just as good as the overpriced mainstream software. Or you can just "liberate" the game or overpriced software from your friendly neighborhood pirates.

Let's discuss both.

DRM and You[edit]

First a short discussion on DRM or Digital Rights Management. DRM is just a fancy word for copy protection and has been around since the time of the greybeards before the internet. Some of the copy protection basically screwed over many "legitimate" users in a vain attempt to stop the pirates.

Back in the days of BBS boards and 5 1/4 floppy drives, some software for the venerable Commodore 64 made the 1541 floppy drive knock. This caused expensive repair issues to the units. Of course, the pirated versions did not have this issue and actually drove people to look for the better pirate releases. Ironically, if you look for older stuff from that era, the only copies that remain preserved for history are the pirated versions.

Sony one time put a root kit on music CDs that would install itself on any computer it was inserted into. A nasty virus that was complicated to get off hampered system performance.

Other forms of copy protection require some sort of key or an always online component to operate. Or they may need proprietary format or hardware to actually use. Of course, good luck using your software if the company goes belly up and the authentication server gets sold at auction or you lose your key! Lord forbid you want to copy your 80 USD XBOX game or Grateful Dead boxed set because the CD or DVD is so ridiculously easy to scratch up leaving you with an 80 USD coffee coaster!

Now, we here at STW are all about creating and whatnot and even getting credit for a job well done. But, the problem with copy protection is many times the protection is overzealous and does not have the user's best interests. If you want to copy STW and print it in book form, go ahead! We are under the GNU FDL and actually encourage it as long as you aren't lame about it.

But, false hype, system screwing attacks, privacy invasion, annoying subscriptions, and shitty formats that can be damaged easily or stolen like DVDs and CDs makes piracy and open source here to stay.

Pirate Software[edit]

LEGAL NOTE: Organizations like the RIAA and MPAA along with government entities are forever locked in legal and cat and mouse battles with both the sites and the users of the site. Sometimes resorting to out of proportion legal practices like insane multi million dollar lawsuits against grandma because the grand daughter up loaded Brittany Spears. Use of an anominizer is encouraged

LEGAL NOTE: Some ISPs are monitoring bandwidth and throttling or in some cases cancelling service of folks using too much bandwidth in torrenting a lot. Use sparingly to avoid tipping off the bandwidth narcs.

You can get movies, music, commercial games, and productivity software from sharing and torrent sites. The CorpGov propaganda half-correct proports that the pirate sites are a great way to get some virus or malware. But, if you follow this way, you will usually be safe. The viruses are usually from ads and pop ups that you can accidentally click on, rarely from the file itself.

There are also perfectly legit reasons for wanting to torrent instead of buying that have nothing to do with "theft". Many games, movies, software, etc is very overhyped by massive advertising efforts beforehand though the actual quality can be poor. How many bought a game that looked good on in a hype ad, but turned out to be a buggy dud? Yeah, you can try to return it to the store but many stores balk at refunding opened media.

Here's how for the newbie.

1. Download and install torrent software. There are loads to choose from. Utorrent, Vuse, and Bittorrent are some of the more well known.

2. Go to a F2P pirate site. Yarr! The most famous is thepiratebay.se, a constant thorn in the side of the software, music, tv, and movie moguls. There are others. Be aware that these get shut down from time to time and new ones pop up.

3. BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU PRESS. The viruses, as mentioned, come from the pop ups and ads. After all, the pirates need lunch money, too. They make it off click and misclick happy newbs. An ad blocker extension for your browser helps. Oh, and you should NEVER need to get a special media player or update flash out of nowhere.

4. Search for what you want.

5. The Pirate Sites are actually search engines like Google. But, strictly for torrents. To get the fastest download, look for the file with the highest numbers of "seeders" versus "leechers". Seeders are those that have all of the file and are uploading. Leechers are those needing all or parts of the file.

6. READ COMMENTS! Most of the better pirate sites let folks comment on the torrents. Most also have a "trusted" logo or something from the uploader's handle to indicate a reliable source who has uploaded good torrents in the past and no drama. The comments will let you know issues anyone has with the software with installation or false positive antivirus. Or, if the software even works and what may not.

7. BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU PRESS!! The pirates are serious about their lunch money and sometimes hide "get torrent button" amongst decoy buttons to trick newbs into clicking on their malware or ad sites. Find the right one. It's usually the smallest.

8. Download torrent. It will open your torrent application. Time to DL depends on your ISP, amount of traffic on your network, wireless signal strength, number of seeders, and length of file.

9. For some software, it will be in .iso format. This is raw CD format. You may need to download a virtual drive software like Daemon Tools Lite to install it.

10. Many pirated programs have a CRACK folder on the .iso or in the files downloaded. Just copy the content from CRACK folder to main folder. Others may work right out of the box.

11. Additionally, some pirated software has code in it to "phone home". Make sure to disallow it access to the web through your firewall.

12. If all worked well enjoy.

Of course, there are downsides. You usually can not get patches for breaking bugs. Most of the time, some or all online functions of the software will be unusable. Some may be unstable or be missing .dlls. Some may not work at all.

IF YOU LIKE THE SOFTWARE, MUSIC, ETC SUPPORT ARTISTS AND CODERS!!! Pirating is great if you are broke, but encourage creativity and buy it if it is reasonable priced and does not support Mafioso style organizations.

Open Source[edit]

There are a ton of software out there that are open source and free without the need to dodge malware ads and the crosshairs of large trade organizations.

If you search, you can get everything from games to word processors to recording software and even operating systems! So much that it would be a wiki in of itself just to consolidate such a list. New open source software is coming up all the time and old, trusted sources fall out of favor or sell out.

Since the source code is open, anyone with the skills can also either contribute to the project or even take parts of the project into a new project (called forking). There is nothing more revolutionary than offering something that costs hundreds for free.

To find what you want, just google "open source (whatever)" and watch the results pour in along with maybe reviews of each.

Popular ones are the VLC media player, various Linux based operating systems, Open Office which is a full business suite, and many others. Many which work just as well as commercial stuff that can cost hundreds.

Warning: CAREFUL WHAT YOU CLICK. Some open source software is bundled with adware. You can usually opt out of it in the installer.

Abandonware[edit]

You can also technically get out of copyright issues if the program you want was owned by a business that has gone bankrupt or folded. Or, programs so old no one cares. Everything from operating systems to productivity stuff to games are all available. Problem is, some things are so old, you may need emulators to even run.